A statement from the two groups said they investigated 28 Cornerstone Group properties around Florida and found each to be in violation of the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
“It is always a struggle to find accessible affordable housing for people with disabilities,” said Genevieve Cousminer, executive director of West Palm Beach CILO. “We have an expectation that the limited supply of housing built after 1991 will be constructed in an accessible fashion. It is discouraging – and illegal – when a major developer of housing does not ensure that its new housing is open and accessible for everyone.”
The complaint says Cornerstone Group has received millions of dollars in state and federal housing financing and subsidies in recent years, including funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the HOME program and the Community Development Block Grant program, and subsidies through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
“In order to receive funding from the State of Florida and the United States government, the Cornerstone Group guaranteed that their apartments would conform to civil rights laws,” Shanna L. Smith, NFHA President and CEO, said in the statement.
Smith accused the company of “consistently developing apartment buildings that keep out people with disabilities.”
The lawsuit alleges that, since 1993, the company and several of its affiliates have engaged in a continuous pattern or practice of discrimination against people with disabilities by designing and/or constructing multifamily dwellings, and common- and public-use areas, without those required accessibility features.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. The law was specifically amended in 1988 to add protection for people with disabilities and builders, developers, architects, and others have had to comply with accessible design and construction requirements since March 13, 1991.
The apartment complexes with alleged violations are in Coconut Creek, Daytona Beach, Ellenton, Florida City, Fort Pierce, Fort Myers, Hallandale Beach, Hialeah, Homestead, Jacksonville, Lake Worth, Lauderdale Lakes and North Lauderdale, Miami and North Miami, Middleburg, Miramar, Oakland Park, Ormond Beach, Pompano Beach, Riviera Beach, Ruskin, Tampa and Brandon, Viera, and West Palm Beach.